Pacific Northwest Starbucks is testing letting its customers pour their own coffee at some stores. Customers can pay before or after getting...

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Starbucks is testing letting its customers pour their own coffee at some stores.

Customers can pay before or after getting their own drip coffee from a brewer near the condiment bar, the company said on its new customer-feedback Web site.

Starbucks Chief Executive Officer Howard Schultz, who returned to run the chain in January, is testing several new ideas. Last month, the company announced a new loyalty card and a machine called the Clover that makes premium drip coffee. It also plans to grind beans in its stores.

“We are constantly looking for new ways to connect with the customer and provide the best Starbucks experience,” the company said in an e-mail Thursday. “We do not comment on any specifics until a final decision is made.”

Cell Therapeutics

Executive VP decides to quit

Cell Therapeutics said Friday that Dr. Scott Stromatt, its executive vice president for clinical development and regulatory affairs since 2003, has resigned.

Stromatt will continue assisting the Seattle biotech company in its dealings with the European Regulatory Agency, the company said in a regulatory filing.

He’ll get $292,000, the equivalent of 10 months of pay, over the next year, plus other benefits.


iPhone price cut starts speculation

T-Mobile slashed the price of Apple iPhone in Germany, signaling that a new version of the device may arrive by June, according to analysts at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. and Piper Jaffray.

T-Mobile, the wireless carrier owned by Deutsche Telekom with U.S. headquarters in Bellevue, cut the price of 8-gigabyte iPhones by as much as 75 percent on Thursday in a promotion. The special ends in June, suggesting that new phones will be ready by then, Sanford’s Toni Sacconaghi and Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray said Friday in separate reports.

Analysts are speculating that Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs will update the Web-surfing phone to run on third-generation wireless networks. The 3G technology would allow the device to download content faster. AT&T, the exclusive U.S. provider of iPhone service, has said it expects a 3G iPhone this year.

Bear Stearns

NYSE waiver advanced deal

Bear Stearns gained a waiver from the New York Stock Exchange to complete its sale to JPMorgan Chase without a shareholder vote.

The NYSE granted the 85-year-old securities firm an exemption from a rule that would require Bear Stearns to obtain shareholder approval to sell a 39.5 percent stake to New York-based JPMorgan. The sale will be completed on or about April 8, Bear Stearns said Friday.

The approval lets JPMorgan move a step closer to taking full control of Bear Stearns, the fifth-largest U.S. investment bank. JPMorgan Thursday disclosed the purchase of $140.7 million worth of Bear Stearns stock to help ensure the completion of the deal.

JPMorgan, the No. 3 U.S. bank, has agreed to pay a total of about $2.4 billion for all of Bear Stearns, once the largest underwriter of mortgage-backed securities.

On Friday, JPMorgan said it will retain Bear Stearns’ co-heads of fixed income, the first senior posts given to executives from the failed securities firm since its rescue three weeks ago in a deal orchestrated by the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury.

The NYSE requires its roughly 2,700 listed companies to gain shareholder approval for the sale of a stake of more than 20 percent.

National City

Potential buyer linked to bank

Fifth Third Bancorp has emerged as a possible buyer for struggling National City.

The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the situation, reported on Friday about Fifth Third’s interest in National City, Ohio’s biggest financial institution with assets of $150 billion. Previously, the newspaper said National City’s Cleveland-based neighbor, KeyCorp, also was interested.

National City, a Midwestern bank heavily exposed to the worsening mortgage and housing market, confirmed Tuesday that it is reviewing its options amid rumors that it wants to find a buyer. National City has not confirmed that it is seeking a buyer and did not elaborate on what alternatives are being considered.

Fifth Third spokeswoman Debra DeCourcy on Friday declined to comment on the report.


Company, CFO agree on departure

Qwest said Friday that Chief Financial Officer John Richardson is leaving the telecommunications company, saying his departure resulted from a mutual agreement.

Denver-based Qwest said the 63-year-old Richardson will remain until his replacement is found. Richardson had been the company’s CFO since April 2007, when Richard Notebaert was the chief executive officer.

Edward Mueller took over from Notebaert as Qwest CEO in August.

Richardson replaced Oren Shaffer, the company’s CFO since 2002. In June of that year, the company’s then-CEO Joe Nacchio resigned amid a multibillion-dollar accounting scandal that forced Qwest to restate at least $2.2 billion in revenue. Nacchio’s conviction on insider-trading charges was set aside by a federal appeals court.

In a statement Friday, Qwest thanked Richardson for his work. Qwest spokesman Bob Toevs said Richardson’s departure from the company was by mutual agreement.

Qwest is the primary telephone-service provider in 14 mostly Western states, including Washington state.


Debt ratings might be reduced

Macy’s, the owner of its namesake chain and Bloomingdale’s, may have its debt ratings reduced by Moody’s Investors Service on concerns over the slowdown in U.S. consumer spending.

Moody’s has a Baa2 rating on Macy’s long-term debt, two levels above noninvestment grade. About $9 billion would be affected, Moody’s said Friday in a statement.

Macy’s fell 54 cents, or 2.2 percent, to close at $23.92.

Compiled from Seattle Times business staff, Bloomberg News and The Associated Press